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Vamos Rafa, Come on Roger: The rivalry that has transcended tennis

A look back at one of the best rivalries in the history of tennis - Roger Federer Vs Rafael Nadal.

Federer on Nadal: “Even if you play great he can still beat you. That’s what makes him the legend he is today. “

Best friends on and off the court: Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer

There is no greater joy in world tennis than watching the Swiss maestro take on the Spanish bull. A match between these two titans is a match where every point means life or death, where passion for the game overcomes every distraction, every obstacle, every difficulty.

There will be moments of pure class. There will be moments where your hands will start shaking as you look upon their never-ending rallies. There will be moments where your heart will skip a beat as you look upon their breathtaking shots. 

Nadal and Federer took the tennis world on a ride, to a place where no generation had ever been before. The day of their fans started and ended with their praises, and the time in between was spent experiencing those epics. These two names are synonymous to greatness and glory, to passion and motivation, to vision and focus, to endurance and strength.

Federer and Nadal are synonymous to champion. These two are not just tennis players, they are idols for every tennis fan.

A treat for India

Every tennis fan in India, deep down in their hearts has a dream. A dream of watching Roger Federer Vs Rafael Nadal. This dream which seemed quite out of reach for a majority of them is now in sight. Federer and Nadal will be playing in India in the second edition of International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) .

Indian fans will experience two of the biggest names in the history of the sport battle it out in front of them.

The rivalry

Whenever we hear the names Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the same breath, a glimpse of 2008 Wimbledon finals appears in front of our eyes, almost magically. Yes, magic!  That is probably the best word to describe that match. The final consisted of every element to make it to the top of greatest matches of all-time list.

A thrilling five-set battle. The best of all, however, was the final set. The quality of tennis on that day was beyond anything any tennis player or fan had ever witnessed. I bet, most of you remember that fist pump by Rafa at game point to make it 7-7. Boy, that was some form of expression. Almost, saying to everyone, and most of all to Roger, that this is my day. I am winning this. Period. Message sent, now it was time to act upon that.

It was time for the all-important 15th game of the set. If Roger wins, he forces Rafa to serve to stay in the match. If Rafa wins, he serves for The Championships. Roger tries everything to win the game, but even his incredible serving failed to get him past the line. Rafa breaks.

Now, after the change of ends, Rafa is serving for the most sort after trophy in world tennis. It is 40-30, Championship point. Rafa serves wide in the Ad-court, to Roger’s backhand of course. Roger replies with a cross court backhand winner. Deuce. This was the third match point Rafa had squandered, the pressure must be intense.

Rafa now needs something special to win this battle within the battle. The mental battle. And that is exactly what he does. A perfect wide serve in the deuce court to which Roger has no reply. It even gets Tony Nadal jumping and shouting in exuberance. Advantage Nadal. Fourth Championship point.

Rafa serves small and accurate to Roger’s forehand, Roger returns deep to Rafa’s backhand. Rafa sticks to the baseline and hits a heavy topspin backhand right in the middle of the court. Roger breaks under pressure. He hits it into the net. Nadal wins perhaps the greatest match in the history of tennis.

Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning the 2008 Wimbledon final

The warrior falls onto the ground, his face towards the sky, eyes closed, arms and legs spread, clenched fist. A new champion is crowned. History is made which will now alter the future of men’s tennis. This rivalry is the greatest. 

Roger Federer congratulates Rafael Nadal after the latter’s first Wimbledon win

What is so great about this rivalry?

When these two champions step out onto the court, there is a certain aura about them. They have a certain drive, a will to win. They leave no stone unturned. They execute every single game plan and pay attention to the minutest detail of each other’s game. They are like warriors. They fight with each other. They try every single thing to knock each other out of the game. They are men on a mission. When they step out onto the court, history is made every single time.

What separates this rivalry from all several others and perhaps lifts it to the greatest rivalry ever is the attitude of the two rivals. They not only act like champions on-court but off court as well. They are good friends with each other. Imagine that, two players who absolutely tear each other apart on court are buddies off court. They represent the sport in its purest form. They are the stars whom parents want their children to look up to. They are true sportsmen.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer after winning the 2009 Australian Open final

Nadal on Federer : “ If somebody says I am better than Roger, I think this person don't know nothing about tennis .“

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